Formerly known as the Student Photographer of the Year award at last year’s AP Awards, we decided to make this an open competition this year for any aspiring young photographer, not only those who are students. Our new Emerging Talent Award asked those entering to submit an online portfolio of up to 12 images to showcase their work, plus an artist’s statement. These were anonymised by the CMS system and then each of the shortlisted entries was rated by a panel of judges to find a winner.

Jianbo, Camberwell, 2022. Image: Tariq Sadu emerging talent award winner
Jianbo, Camberwell, 2022. Image: Tariq Sadu

Many thanks to Dominique Nok, Tracy Marshall-Grant, Denise Maxwell, Michael Pritchard for taking the time to judge entries alongside AP’s Editor Nigel Atherton, Deputy Online Editor Jessica Miller, and Acting Features Editor Ailsa McWhinnie.

In third place was this outstanding portfolio of sports photography by 26-year-old Will Palmer, from Yorkshire. Despite his age, Will has already won multiple awards for his work.

In second place was 25-year-old Edward Matthews, also from Yorkshire. Edward spent six years as a nightclub photographer before becoming a conflict documentary photographer in Ukraine, supporting grassroots humanitarian aid groups.

Angy, Bank, 2021 emerging talent award winner
Angy, Bank, 2021. Image: Tariq Sadu

And our winner is 25-year-old Tariq Sadu, a self-taught portrait photographer from south London. The judges loved the creativity he showed in his set of portraits, all taken around his local area. ‘I often describe myself as “a yout playing with a camera”,’ he says. ‘This essentially means that I approach my craft with a youthful enthusiasm, continuously exploring and defining my style and niche.’

Tariq describes his proudest achievement so far as being given the opportunity to shoot for GQ, which can be seen on the magazine’s website, and he aims to challenge the norms of portrait photography by shooting with lenses not usually associated with the genre – namely wideangle. ‘I like the distortion it adds to my photography and the ability to incorporate the environment into my shots,’ he says.

Amy, Brixton Market, 2022 emerging talent award winner
Amy, Brixton Market, 2022. Image: Tariq Sadu

When it comes to subject matter, many of his images are shot on council estates and in locations that, he says, people might consider ‘basic’. This used to bother him, but not any more. ‘Now I embrace my environment and my community,’ he explains, ‘making the most of the resources I have available to create amazing work, and allowing the world to see what London looks like through my lens, rather than what is fed to others through the media. Yes, I shoot on council estates often, because that is my reality.’

Tariq’s pictures are good enough to grace any style or youth culture magazine. They show that if you have an eye for composition and framing, and a good rapport with your subjects, you don’t need to hire professional models or travel to somewhere exotic to get great photos.

See more of Tariq’s work on Instagram @r1qsadu

Amaka & Kiera, Russell Square  emerging talent award winner
Amaka & Kiera, Russell Square. Image: Tariq Sadu

Emerging Talent Award runners-up

Second Place: Edward Matthews

Edward Matthews gave up nightclub photography to travel to Ukraine and help grassroots charities with his work

 Lonely forager, Kharkiv, Ukraine, Dec 2022
Lonely forager, Kharkiv, Ukraine, Dec 2022. Image: Edward Matthews

What inspired you to shoot this project?

In 2022, like many others, I found myself witnessing the full-scale invasion of Ukraine unfolding in real time on social media and in the news. At that time, I was working as a nightclub photographer, but felt deflated and lost about the direction of my career. After much thought, I made the life-changing decision to use my photography skills for a more meaningful purpose, aiming to produce images that could genuinely make a difference.

What challenges did you have to overcome?

One of the significant challenges that I have encountered on this journey is the quest to find the right platform for my work and funding it independently. I initially aspired to become an in-house war correspondent or a photojournalist for a large media company but quickly realised that I wanted to produce work independently, thus enabling me to tell more authentic stories. 

Heavy Armour
Kupyansk, Ukraine,
Dec 2022
Heavy Armour Kupyansk, Ukraine, Dec 2022. Image: Edward Matthews

What do you hope to achieve with it?

The importance of my photography work became evident as I spent a considerable amount of time in Ukraine, supporting grassroots charities with media content that facilitated an increase in donor funding. The financial support generated from this content directly contributed to aiding Ukrainian people.

What gear did you use for this work?

I used a wide range of gear, including Sony A7 III, Fujifilm X-E3 and Ricoh GR III, with mainly prime lenses from 14mm to 70mm. I also took two Godox TT600 flashes and a Neewer T120 light panel among other things, plus a Peak Design carbon-fibre travel tripod.

Eyes of a defender, Kharkiv, Aug 2022
Eyes of a defender, Kharkiv, Aug 2022. Image: Edward Matthews

Where do you hope photography will take you in the future?

I hope to create compelling content that resonates with international audiences, which will help to re-engage people who have become desensitised to the war. With the full-scale war spanning two years and a decade since the illegal invasion of Luhansk, Donetsk, and Crimea, the shock factor has gone, and many people have forgotten Ukraine. On my own I can’t do anything, but I can inspire others to help. Together we can make a difference. Looking ahead, my current focus is on ensuring the financial sustainability of my independent documentary work in the long term. I’m exploring various mixed-media projects which will hopefully encourage positive change in the world.

See more of Edward’s work: @edward.snaps

emerging talent award runner up The Price of Independence Lviv, Ukraine, August 2022
The Price of Independence Lviv, Ukraine, August 2022. Image: Edward Matthews

Third Place: Will Palmer

Will Palmer is an accomplished young sports photographer who has already had work published in the national press, global brand channels and advertising

A team talk at the 2023 FIH Hockey Junior World Cup
A team talk at the 2023 FIH Hockey Junior World Cup. Image: Will Palmer

When did you start taking photographs and when did you realise that it was something you wanted to take seriously?

I picked up my first camera in 2014 at school, capturing my friends cycling or playing field hockey for Scarborough Hockey Club. A form tutor at the time encouraged me to present my work in an assembly to the whole school. I later had the opportunity to photograph sports regularly while studying at the University of York and it led to a placement year where I captured international cricket and hockey players. The turning-point came during the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup in London. The vibrant atmosphere and the challenge of capturing those moments solidified my desire to pursue professional photography as a career.
What inspired you to shoot this project?

These photographs reflect the privilege of working at incredible events with inspiring athletes. Capturing their dedication and unique stories is an inspiration. Being at the front row of history-making moments is both a thrill and a challenge, pushing me to capture a standout image. It’s an enjoyable challenge, driven by the passion to freeze these significant moments for others to cherish.

 Track and Para Track Cycling at the Commonwealth Games in 2022
Track and Para Track Cycling at the Commonwealth Games in 2022. Image: Will Palmer

What challenges did you have to overcome?

Living and growing up in the small seaside town of Scarborough posed challenges as there were no major sports teams to which I could reach out for experience, and there were limited opportunities to connect with local photographers in the same field for advice and to have my work critiqued. Additionally, the high cost of professional equipment, particularly long prime lenses for sports photography, proved to be a significant challenge.
What do you hope to achieve with this work?

Through this collection of images, I aim to inspire others to take up photography, encouraging them to explore, travel, and advance their skills. This collection also serves as a personal benchmark, symbolising my journey and I hope will motivate aspiring photographers to challenge themselves to seek out interesting perspectives with their work. It also marks the beginning of pursuing new opportunities within sports and progressing towards my future goals.

Rhythmic Gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games 2022
Rhythmic Gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games 2022. Image: Will Palmer

What gear did you use for this work?

A Nikon D6 and Nikon Z9. Lenses included a 14-30mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm and 400mm f/2.8.
Where do you hope photography will take you in the future?

I hope I can build on this set of images and learn new techniques. I would like to explore using remote cameras more to capture unique angles, expand my portfolio of sports portraiture and clients as well as hopefully complete my childhood dream of working at an Olympics.

See more of Will’s work:

Eilish McCoglan at the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Eilish McCoglan at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Image: Will Palmer
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Make sure you have a look at the other AP Award winners!

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